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Crimes of opportunity on the rise this holiday season: Vehicle burglaries and package thefts spike

Amazon boxes
Kacey Drescher/KEYT Photo

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A record $9.4 billion was spent online this Cyber Monday and as those boxes make their way to your doorstep, police hope you make it harder for thieves to steal from you.

As Cyber Monday purchases make their way off the delivery truck, more and more people are utilizing package hubs like the Amazon Lockers in Isla Vista.

“I feel like if it goes to my dorm or something it will get lost,” said Ishika Shah of Isla Vista. 

“It’s in the trustworthy hands of the people of Amazon instead of sitting on my front porch, maybe get stolen by somebody passing by,” said Luis Tlalacalco of Isla Vista. 

Police say that crime of opportunity is the common thread when looking at package thefts in Santa Barbara.

“It’s usually visible so somebody driving down the street could see a box at the door where usually the courier leaves it,” said Sgt. John Ingram, Property Crime Unit Detective. 

Santa Barbara Police say we average a couple of porch pirate incidents a week but this time of year it spikes and utilizing these secure hubs makes it harder for thieves to steal.

“If they’re concealed or behind a gate there’s less of an opportunity,” explains Sgt. Ingram. 

Ingram also suggests picking up your parcel at the delivery facility, choosing a shipping option that requires a signature and utilizing home security cameras. 

While Liz Gates hasn’t had an online purchase swiped, she has had the unfortunate experience of dealing with vehicle burglary. “Sad, upset, violated,” said the Santa Barbara woman, explaining how the incident made her feel. 

A couple of years ago she accidentally left her son’s Gameboy in plain sight.

“I went into a place, it was in downtown, 10 minutes later, no Gameboy it was pretty sad,” said Gates. 

Police say what happened to Gates is another common holiday crime trend.

“The suspects will just walk around, break your window, whatever is there,” said Ingram. 

Property Crimes Detective Sergeant John Ingram says this past weekend, thieves hit the waterfront with a vengeance.

“A lot of window smashes and things were stolen. People taking walks along Shoreline, down along the beaches. The commonality in all these was that the items stolen were left in plain view on the seat,” said Ingram. 

Like those packages, out of sight out of mind is your best defense.

“I always put things in my trunk, the trunk is the best place to keep things,” said Ingram. 

Which is exactly what police advise.

Another trend police have noticed, people leaving hide-a-keys in their car.

Since July police have investigated 78 vehicle thefts with 41 reported since September.

Officials stress the importance of removing valuables and spare keys from your vehicle. Do not leave your car running and unattended, even for a short time. 

Article Topic Follows: Crime & Courts
package thefts
porch pirate
Santa Barbara

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Kacey Drescher


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